China’s solar industry continues to beat out expectations, and new analysis published this week suggests that continued strong demand for solar throughout 2017 will help push global demand over the 100 gigawatt mark for the first time.
At the beginning of each year, experts put their thinking caps on to predict just how much solar will be installed for the coming year — and invariably conclude that China will lead the way. However, it seems that analysts are always underselling Chinese ambition. In 2016, China installed a whopping 34 gigawatts (GW) worth of solar well up on expectations and 126% up on the year previous. China continued its strong performance into the beginning of 2017, installing 7.21 GW in the first quarter, before shattering that by installing 17 GW in the second quarter. In total, for the first half of 2017, China installed 17.29 GW worth of utility-scale solar and 7.11 GW worth of distributed solar.
New analysis published this week by EnergyTrend, a division of TrendForce, predicts that China’s solar demand is so strong this year that it will push the total global demand across the 100 GW mark for the first time ever — increasing by 26% over 2016. More specifically, EnergyTrend predicts that China will install a mammoth 48 GW in 2017, nearly half of all global demand, and has already reached 39 GW over the first eight months of the year.
“Going forward, the Chinese market during this year’s remaining four months will be influenced by the completion of projects related to the second phase of the Top Runner Program and the first phase of the PV Poverty Alleviation Project,” said EnergyTrend analyst Rhea Tsao. “At the same time, the market is also being affected by rumors that the Chinese government will cut feed-in tariff (FIT) rates for distributed PV systems at the start of 2018. This prospect will likely trigger another wave of urgency to complete installations in the short term.”
EnergyTrend predicts that China will install around 22 GW worth of distributed solar, with the remainder presumably being made up by utility-scale. All in all, by year’s end, China’s cumulative solar capacity should reach 125.42 GW — not bad, considering that in 2014 its cumulative capacity sat at 28 GW.
Stepping back to look at global figures, then, the next closest installer will likely be the United States, with predicted annual demand of 12.5 GW — down 15%, thanks in large part to the Suniva/SolarWorld trade case which has created significant uncertainty. This will not only impact 2017 figures but seriously threatens solar demand during 2018 for the US.
India will now finally work its way into third spot, overtaking Japan, with 10 GW and 6.8 GW respectively.